The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has banned stainless steel pickling, an acid-based treatment to clean metal impurities such as rust while manufacturing utensils.
The order has come as a major setback for the 180-odd units in Delhi ahead of Diwali and other festivals when steel products are high in demand.
The NGT, however, has allowed the units to sell the stock that they have already manufactured. The ban does not cover manufacturing of utensils without pickling at units other than these 180.
After the Delhi Pollution Control Committee had ordered these 180 units to be shut they sought relief, stating that stocks lying in their premises would have no value if they were not sold during this festival season.
The tribunal permitted these units to sell the already manufactured stocks but said no to further pickling. “We make it clear that no unit shall carry on any manufacturing, industrial or stainless steel pickling activity from their premises.”
“The DPCC may inspect any unit and if manufacturing or finishing of semi-finished articles is noticed, it will seal the premises without notice,” the tribunal said. The matter will be heard next on October 18 and 21.
When utensils are manufactured, metal sheets are dipped into acid tubs for purification. The DPCC said the units were operating without its consent. The Delhi Development Authority has also prohibited this industry in the city’s master plan.
“…these are highly polluting industries and can have a very serious impact on groundwater, water bodies, drains and where industrial effluent is discharged from such units,” the tribunal had said during an earlier hearing.
The tribunal has told the Delhi Jal Board to furnish drawing up a list of all the industries which are, according to them, discharging acidic effluents into the drains.The pickling units had pleaded that they not be shut and their premises be not sealed as it would cause immense financial loss to them as well as to the over two lakh workers engaged by them.